Acton Institute Powerblog

Dems Cornered on Health Reform

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As we appear to be nearing a climax in the many-months-long health care reform debate (maybe), opinion is remarkably divided on what the end result will be. Outright victory for left-wing reformers? Passage of a watered down, lowest-common-denominator reform bill? Or clear victory for Republican opposition? All possibilities remain on the table.

The relative success of conservative candidates in major elections Tuesday led most commentators to reason that the environment has gotten more difficult for moderate Democrats and that, therefore, Pelosi and Reid were facing an uphill battle. Jim Geraghty offers a different perspective at NRO today: Maybe the perception of faltering support among moderates and independents for Democratic politicians will ironically push the latter to the left on health care reform. After all, Geraghty observes, Democrats as well as Republicans get nowhere electorally without firing up their base, and struggling Democrats need a signal victory to show off to their core liberal backers. The only serious candidate to be such a showpiece, at present, is health care reform, replete with a public option.

Another possibility is that pro-life Democrats such as Bart Stupak of Michigan, will set political calculations aside and, on principle alone, refuse to support the type of bill pushed by Democratic leadership. A weak possibility, to be sure, given that obsession with re-election is the most widespread and bipartisan character trait discernible in Congress.

Kevin Schmiesing Kevin Schmiesing, Ph.D., is a research fellow for the research department at the Acton Institute. He is a frequent writer on Catholic social thought and economics, is the author of American Catholic Intellectuals, 1895-1955 (Edwin Mellen Press, 2002) and is most recently the author of Within the Market Strife: American Catholic Economic Thought from Rerum Novarum to Vatican II (Lexington Books, 2004). Dr. Schmiesing holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in history from Franciscan University ofSteubenville. Author of Within the Market Strife and American Catholic Intellectuals, 1895—1955 (2002), he serves as Book Review Editor for the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is also executive director of CatholicHistory.net.

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